Dress For The Weather

Dress For The Weather

Vancouver Island is a rainforest.  Even when the temperature isn’t dipping below zero, the dampness can sink into clothing and bring the cold with it.  Your best bet is to protect yourself from the rain first and then worry about cold.  You’ll be plenty warm enough when you get up to speed on your bike.

Suggested apparel:

  • Waterproof cycling jacket/poncho
  • Waterproof cycling pants (if you have a cycling poncho, you might be able to skip the pants)
  • Waterproof shoes or boots
  • Gaiters or shoe covers (if shoes not waterproof)
  • Ear muffs or a sports head scarf (thin tube of material – polyester, etc that functions as a scarf, head covering, etc.)
  • Gloves

Where To Buy Winter Cycling Clothing?

From Hub City Cycles!  Well, we actually only have a few pieces – we’ll sometimes have clothing on consignment, but it’s not a guarantee.  So, on to other practical places.  Any bicycle shop in Nanaimo probably has a full complement of gear suitable for winter cycling.  Other places you could try are the usual suspects among the big box stores.  There are also Alberni Outpost, Wholesale Sports, Cabelas, ONO Trading Co., Atmosphere, Valhalla Pure, and a number of others local to the Nanaimo area.

But… I don’t have the money for that…

Waterproof cycling clothes are usually expensive.  They are definitely worth the money, but if you don’t have the money, that’s really not going to help you.  Fortunately, Nanaimo has a number of options for shopping second-hand.  You can get a smashing bargain and have a high quality item to wear if you shop carefully.

Don’t be afraid to handle the item – check for wear and tear, check that it is the item advertised.  Don’t feel obligated to buy if it is not as advertised – or offer less, based on the repairs you have to make.

Thrift Stores

Nanaimo has a number of thrift stores that might have what you’re looking for.  Buying new means that the nice salesperson will probably show you exactly what you need; in a thrift shop, you have to know what you’re looking for.  Value Village is probably the most kitted out store we have, even if the prices are a little high.

Craigslist, Kijiji, UsedNanaimo, etc.

This can be an excellent way to get good quality gear for less.  Some people overprice their gear, but just as many want to see it gone and are willing to bend a little on the price.

*Be safe* – meet people in a public place or at least take a friend to pick the item up.


Facebook has roared onto the secondhand sales scene with a vengeance.  You can find all sorts of local Swap N Shops, specific category groups, free item groups… you name it.  The same safety rules apply to Facebook as well.

Freecycle and Free Items on Other Sites

Freecycle is another free item group that usually operates via email.  You can post an In Search Of request and maybe you’ll get lucky.  Be aware of free site rules and abide by them if you want to continue getting free stuff.

What To Look For

Cycling jackets are distinguished by armpit zippers, a drop tail (back of the jacket dips low and is designed to cover your hips while you are bent over your bicycle), reflective taping, and often feature things like drawstring necks and bottoms.  The most distinguishing feature of a cycling jacket vs. a generic athletic jacket is that the back dips low – and that’s what you want to protect you from moisture hitting you in the rear end.  Look for taped seams that indicate waterproofing if there is no tag.

Cycling ponchos are versatile in that they are designed to drape over the handlebars of a bike and protect most of the cyclist’s lower body from rain.  This can cut down on the sweat factor while cycling.  Even non-cycling ponchos can sometimes be modified to attach to bicycle handles or the rider’s thumbs, offering protection to the entire body save the feet.

Waterproof rain pants are distinguishable by heavy nylon and taped seams.  They often have zippers or velcro on the sides to aid in pulling them over other pants.  Cycling pants often have tabs on the cuffs so one can strap them close to the leg.  The fit also tends to be a little more streamlined than regular waterproof pants.

Second hand waterproof boots or shoes are common and most will work for cycling unless you have pedal cages or clipless pedals.  Clipless pedals, of course, require footwear that snap into them.  Pedal cages can fit most shoes, but waterproof boots and shoes tend to be bulkier than most.  You might have to either play with the sizing of the cage, get a different style that allows the winter footwear, or take the cages off.

Gaiters are great for people who have to splash through a lot of mud puddles.  Reaching up to the knee, they keep the lower leg completely covered.  Given a waterproof shoe and your entire calf and foot should stay dry throughout your commute.  You can get them at most sporting goods stores; I doubt you’ll find them second hand.

Shoe covers are for non-waterproof shoes and presuppose you have some other means of keeping your legs dry.  Check the bottom to see how much the item has been walked in – if you forget to take off your covers a lot, you’ll wear away the bottom really quickly.

Mix and Match

Many items of clothing can be used as cycling clothing, especially if they wick away sweat from your body.  Don’t be afraid to experiment; if you don’t like one combination, try another.  Once you figure out what works best for you, you can keep an eye out at whatever store you happen to be at for some great deals.

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